There was a catchy, if slightly brainwashing, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream jingle which aired on televisions across America in the mid-1980s. (I wish I could find a YouTube clip of this!)
You don’t need Haagen. You don’t need Dazs.
You don’t need Frusen. You don’t need Glädjé.
You don’t need ice cream from Steve at Steve’s.
All you need are Ben and Jerry’s.
My friend and I sang this all the time: walking home from school, driving to the mall, lying on the sand at the beach (where we also blared John Mellencamp’s song about another famous couple, Jack & Diane, from our boombox).
For us, the commercial was an inside joke because we know Ben and Jerry personally. Ben and Jerry are my friend’s parents. Let me tell you a bit about them.
Ben and Jerry are a soft-spoken couple with lilting West Virginia accents which make the words ice cream four syllables instead of two. They moved into my suburban neighborhood when I was a kid, so we all go back a long way.
They are what I would call make-do people, content to make do with what they have. They truly seem to have little need or desire for material things beyond the basics. Wedding bands and watches aside, they wear no jewelry. I think I remember Jerry wearing earrings once. They may have gotten cell phones recently — the prepaid kind because what do they need with all those minutes? The flashiest thing they ever owned was Ben’s sporty MG roadster, which was likely his modest attempt at a mid-life crisis. It’s long since gone replaced with a more sensible car. In short, they are two of the most content people I know.
If opposites attract, then Ben and Jerry are the perfect couple. He is easy going. She is quick to get riled up. He is pragmatic. She is dramatic with her emotions on the surface. He views the world in a broader sense. She is opinionated about how the world should work which is, to be blunt, her way. His features are soft and gentle. Her eyes flash at the slightest provocation. He has a smile for all. If she doesn’t like you, you’re doomed.
I’ve only known them to take one vacation that wasn’t to visit relatives. When my friend and I were kids, we all drove to the North Carolina mountains to see the fall leaves. We made Ben and Jerry listen to Jack and Diane the whole way. After the cassette player finally ate our tape and Jerry wished it good riddance, we made our own entertainment by singing our favorite commercial. Ben couldn’t help but join in after the twentieth rendition, while Jerry rolled her eyes.
Back then, Ben made the long drive into the city to work while Jerry spent her days waiting for us to get home from school, at least that’s how I viewed it when I was a kid. For a while she took a part-time gig as a crossing guard, wearing a neon orange vest and holding a giant stop sign as my friend and I ran across the street to her house where I waited for my mom to get home from work. Our after school snack? Bowlfuls of Ben & Jerry’s Dastardly Mash. We liked the name more than anything.
By now, you realize that my friend’s parents are not the Ben and Jerry, but the other Ben and Jerry. But I think they have a similar philosophy of life. Peace. Love. Ice Cream.
Today is all things Ben & Jerry’s. Please visit these awesome blogs to get more ice cream musings. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat some Chunky Monkey.